PRESTONSBURG – Drag racing many believe is a man’s sport, but don’t tell that to Amanda May, Paula Goble, Amanda Collins, Teresa Bailey, Amanda Ball and Amanda Howard. These are the women that race in the Combs Airport Armdrop Drags. Combs Airport Armdrop Drags is presented in cooperation between Paintsville and Prestonsburg Tourism in hopes of promoting the area as well as give individuals a place to drag race legally.
“Combs Airport Armdrop Drags also originally started to give the youth and people racing on the roads a place to race legally and get them to stop racing on the street,” stated Brenda May
Amanda May of Prestonsburg has been racing since 2012. She credits her grandfather David May for getting her involved in racing. Amanda May drives a white Chevrolet Camaro nicknamed Casper. Although she never expected to have racing as a full-time career, she devotes much of her time traveling to different events. May 2015 she traveled to Australia to race where she drove a 1969 Ford Falcon Twin Turbo.
“I have always driven fast so racing is something that comes natural to me,” stated Amanda May. “I guess it’s in my blood. I enjoy traveling and had a great time in Australia. I had never really driven a twin turbo much, but we rented the track for five days and I learned to handle it.”
Paula Goble, also of Prestonsburg, is known to most people as a photographer. A little known fact about her is she is also one fast tire burning lady who loves drag races. Goble has only recently started racing, but says she grew up around racing. Goble credits her father for starting her love of racing. He also was into racing. She drives a black four door Mercedes nicknamed Black Betty. Although it may look like the car of a soccer mom, make no mistakes Black Betty will chew you up and spit you out if you are on the line opposite of Goble.
“My dad use to go to the races with the jugs of gasoline setting in the backseat of the car,” said Goble. “Amanda offered to let me drive one of her cars. I thought if I didn’t take the opportunity, I would regret it. I jumped at the chance and I have been racing ever since.”
Another familiar face at the Combs Airport Arm Drops is Amanda Collins. Collins works for Mountain Comprehensive Care of Prestonsburg. Collins, says herself, like Goble, has been around racing for as long as she can remember. She drives a Ford Mustang nicknamed Ol Nelly Bell.
“My dad babysit me when I was little,” Collins said. “He worked on cars and would take me to the junk yards with him. I watched him as a young girl work on cars and I got interested watching him build cars to race himself,” states Collins. “Another great memory is beating my dad motor to motor or when I made my first nitrous pass at Clay City and my radio fell out on the gear shift as I was going down the track.”
Amanda Ball is another female race driver who competes at Combs Airport Armdrops. She grew up in Matewan, West Virginia and currently resides at East Point. Amanda is the relative new comer to the group of racing gals having only been racing about a year and a half. Amanda works as a medical assistant at Pikeville Medical Center and is the mother of two awesome kids Nate, age 11 and Brooklyn age 10. She give credit to her father-in-law for inspiring her to try racing. Amanda drive a 2014 Chevy Camaro that is nicknamed the Beast.
Teresa Bailey is also a West Virginia girl from Naugatuck. Bailey has been racing for nine years and credits her husband Chris who is also a racer as her inspiration as a driver. The wife and stepmother Cody 19 drives a 1994 Ford Mustang GT (cobra clone) Gypsy and also a 2007 Mustang. When she isn’t racing, Teresa works as an office manager. A memorable racing incident happened while racing at Combs Airport Armdrops, when Bailey’s hood on the car she was driving flew up during a race and shattered her windshield. Not to be deterred by a simple little shattered glass, Bailey continued racing that day minus the hood of her car.
“One specific memory that stands out the most is in 2010 when my husband Chris and I were racing at Bluegrass Raceway now called, I 64 Motorplex and we both made it to the finals,” stated Bailey. “I honestly didn’t care which of us won. I was thrilled it was between the two of us. He won, but it was a great race and a great memory.”
The final female driver that has competed at Combs Airport is Amanda Howard from Ulysses in Lawrence County. The mother of Cody 16, Madison 15, Harley 14, twins Alex and Brooke 12 and is also rising her six month old niece BraeLynn. This is a working mom that does not let the grass grow under her feet. When Amanda is not racing or taking care of kids, she works as a remote customer agent for Ali. Racing since she was 12 years old, Amanda says she learned to take her first steps on the dirt track (literally) 201 Speedway, which she continues to be a part of and race at today. Amanda known on the racing circuit as HellKat drives a 2014 Corvette Sting Ray and a 2013 ZR1. She credits her love of racing and fast cars to her grandpa Johnny Salyers.
“I have so many great memories of racing it is hard to pick my favorite. I enjoy the burn outs we do for a lost racer, or going Four Wide on the dirt track in memory of my papaw,” said Howard
Combs Airport Armdrops will host a Test and Tune, “Last Man Standing” race Saturday, 16. Prize money has been doubled to $2000. Gates open at 9 a.m. TNT starts at noon. “Last Man Standing” is at 3 p.m. Admission is $10 and children 12 and under are free. Drives fee is $50. Free parking is available.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at 606/886-8506.